She would stand out front on her tiny concrete porch gazing with anticipation for her family to enter the gravel driveway. She was so thankful to see us slowly pull in after the long drive. I’d awaken to the gentle whispers of my parents telling me we’d arrived at my grandmother’s house for the holidays. As I rubbed my eyes, I could see her jumping up and down, shouting with joy, “Where’s my baby? Where’s my baby?”
Now I was many years from being a baby. I was almost a teenager. But I was beyond thankful to be at the home of the lady who, for years, helped raise me when I was a toddler. The joy on her face made me smile as I rubbed my sleepy eyes. My sister still teases me to this day because she too remembers those screams of joy, not only her grandson but for my entire family. We would spend Christmas with Mother Dear or, as we called her, “Madea.”
I don’t think my sister understood the connection between myself and Mother Dear. She loved me deeply and spoiled me rotten growing up. She was ready for our visit despite having worked the graveyard shift at the hospital. The food she’d prepare for us was unbelievable — coconut cake with a delectable cream cheese frosting, Seven-up pound cake, and buttermilk chess pie too. Her refrigerator filled with chocolate milk and sodas for us kids. She had her cast-iron dutch oven ready to fry up the best-fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in my life. I loved watching her shake those chicken pieces in seasoned flour in a brown paper bag as she fried up enough chicken for an army!
And then She was Gone…
It has been almost half my life since Mother Dear passed away from the effects of a stroke. My eyes well up with tears as I’m typing this post. I wrote and recited a poem at her funeral while fighting back crocodile tears. I still get texts or calls from my mom this time of year sharing how much she still misses her mom. Mother Dear would be 100 years old if she were still alive. this November
She could fill the room with her laughter, and her love for me was genuine, heartfelt, and overflowing. In her later years, I helped with caring for her after her stroke. She was the first person I thought of when the doctor told me I’d had a stroke myself eighteen years after her death. The holidays are not the same without Mother Dear, my beloved grandmother.
It has been a long time since Mother Dear passed away, and my heart still hearts when I think of her. However, in the twenty-seven years since her death, God has given me so much to be thankful. It would be easy to point out the obvious things like the transformation of my heart and the dramatic lifestyle changes since my stroke. However, I am most thankful that God refused to give up on me even when I did everything in my power to run away and not serve Him. So, on that note, I want to share with you several reasons to be thankful even when we are hurting.
Be Thankful for…
God’s Unconditional Love. It is because of God’s love for me that I can now communicate with Him any time. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. Every chance I get, I let God know how thankful I am for the sacrifice of His Son. I have hope knowing I will see Him in eternity someday and hopefully, Mother Dear as well.
But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8
God’s Undeserved Grace. I know that by His grace, I have the salvation of my soul through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9. God continues to shower me with His grace every day. He allowed me to survive my stroke for a purpose. I cannot express enough the joy I experience writing to you about my Savior!
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. -Psalms 28:7.
God’s Ongoing Faithfulness. Dependable. True. Trustworthy. Honorable. These are just a few words that describe what it means to be faithful. Take a moment and meditate on these words. Faithfulness is one of God’s unchanging characteristics. God is always near-especially when we are hurting or suffering in pain. During the times we feel that God is not near, we need to ask ourselves, have we moved away from Him?
I speak from experience. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the busyness of life. By busyness, I do not mean social media.. haha. I’m talking about our everyday obligations and responsibilities. However, we have to guard ourselves against the distractions from our enemy, the devil. He will dangle those distractions to take our focus off God’s calling for our lives.
God, in His faithfulness, is patient with His children. He created us for a unique purpose. A purpose that He wants us to fulfill. Even when we are lagging in the faithful department, God’s faithfulness never changes. We need to thank Him for ALWAYS being there for us.
The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. -Lamentations 3:22-25.
As I walked into my mother’s house for Thanksgiving this year, She let out a joyful high-pitched shout as we entered. It took me back to hearing the joyous screams of my grandmother, Lillie Mae Dixon. Yes, it hurts that she is no longer with us, but as I enjoyed the time with my family, my heart was joyful. Joyful with a peace that only Jesus Christ can give me.
I'm thankful that Jesus saved me and loved me enough to continue pursuing my heart. Click To Tweet The transformation is ongoing, and it’s exciting to experience Him at work in my life! He’s rebuilding a heart that was tattered and torn. Broken and bruised. My love for Him grows stronger every day despite the trials and tests that seem to spring up without warning.
So, My Question for You is…
Are you willing to live with a heart of gratitude even when it hurts? God has instructed His servants to live as salt and light. He didn’t say to do so only when things are rosy, and everything is going great. Do you realize the effect you can have in the lives of people when you live with a heart of gratitude in EVERY situation? My intention is not to minimize your hurts, but to challenge you to maximize your effectiveness for Christ. Doing so includes being thankful even when you are hurting. I leave you with this easy to remember verse regarding thankfulness. It’s my prayer that regardless of your situation, you will commit to giving God thanks.
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. -1 Thessalonians 5:18-19.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to read your feedback. Live gratefully!
Horace Williams, Jr.